Our history lesson continues today. We learned yesterday the back story of Jacob and his family prior to his night of wrestling with God. There are a couple of things to note further about this night. First we know that as the author of the book says that God rewarded Jacob’s persistence. Jacob was in line to have the covenant, the promise that God had given Abraham fulfilled through him. Up until this time however when Jacob refers to God, he refers to him as the God of my father Abraham and my father Isaac.
“And Jacob said ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,’” Genesis 32:9
Up until Jacob had an encounter with God himself, God was not personal to him. He knew who God was, and he attempted to walk in light of the promise to some extent but his heart was not fully God’s until this point. After Jacob had the night of wrestling and had seen God face to face and received the blessing from God, he began to call God the God of Israel.
“There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.” Genesis 33:20
This was after he had actually met up with Esau and they had reconciled, Jacob had erected the altar and given this name which means the mighty God of Israel. (Yes, I know we are supposed to be studying Jehovah-Nissi, but we have another name that slipped in here on us.) God had become his God. God was finally personal to Jacob. Sometimes it takes a wrestling match for God to become personal to us. We can learn and get all the head knowledge about who God is, but it’s not until we actually learn His heart and it touches our heart that God becomes personal to us.
God made this covenant with Abraham. But it was Abrahams obedience that had to keep it going. Isaac walked with God and carried the covenant and blessed his son, Jacob. But God had to become personal to Jacob in order for Jacob to fulfill his side of the covenant.
“God required a long walk of obedience to receive what He had promised.” Wendy Blight ~ I Know His Name
We are going to fast forward just a bit in our story. This is bringing us to the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s sons. With the exception, Jacob’s son Levi would not be a tribe, as they would be set apart as ministers in the tabernacle and Jacob’s son Joseph would receive a double portion as his sons Manasseh and Ephraim. When Moses led the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) out of Egypt, they were divided into these twelve tribes. As the Israelites traveled in the wilderness they did everything as these twelve tribes, they traveled as tribes, they camped as tribes, they worked as tribes and eventually they would settle as tribes. Each tribal family also had a tribal banner that they would set up to designate their tribes.
“The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” Numbers 2:2
Even though the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, it was not without order. God is a God of order not chaos and He was impressing upon the Israelites to follow the details. God led the Israelites through the wilderness by cloud by day and fire by night. When the cloud lifted off of the tabernacle, or the tent of meeting, the Israelites would break camp and would follow the cloud to the next stop and as they set up camp again, the cloud would settle over the tent of meeting again until it was time to break camp and move again.
I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I have prayed for a cloud or a pillar of fire, or a burning bush so that I would know what to do next. Sometimes finding our direction in life can be hard, can’t it? God does still lead us today but not by a cloud or a fire, God leads us these days through His word, and through the Holy Spirit living inside of us. When I stay close to Him I can feel His leading and His guidance, He is personal to me. When I can’t feel His leading and His presence, it’s always me that moved and is not leaning into Him. It took me a long time, to know this, but I think I would rather have His presence in my heart all the time as the Holy Spirit living inside of me than to have to follow a cloud all the time. Wouldn’t you?